Marines and veterans are trekking more than 13 miles along a California boardwalk to raise awareness about suicide prevention — and they'll be wearing very little in the process.
The former infantry officer-turned-comedian is leading participants on a 22-kilometer road march on Saturday while they each carry 22 kilograms — nearly 50 pounds — of gear. The number of kilometers they'll walk and the weight that they'll carry represents the 22 service members who die from suicide each day.
"Imagine a pub crawl with all your Marine buddies wearing nothing but silkies and rucks on the most crowded and beautiful boardwalk in California. That's what's going on here," the event's Facebook page says.
Above all, Maher seeks to extend the camaraderie veterans enjoyed while deployed or in garrison beyond their years in uniform. That, he says, goes a long way to keep those who are struggling from feeling so isolated and misunderstood after returning to civilian life that they self-destruct.
Already, attendees include service members from at least five Marine regiments, several school houses, Seal Team 9, explosive ordnance disposal technicians, Coast Guard personnel, Marine Corps Special Operations Command raiders and more, according to the Facebook page.
Maher also recently authored "Embarrassing Confessions of a Marine Lieutenant," which is the first in a planned series of military-themed comedy books he hopes will give veterans a good laugh while also promoting suicide-prevention efforts. Each chapter concludes will a call-to-action that helps maintain the bond forged during their years of service.
For the whole story on Maher journey from grunt to comedian, check back next week with Marine Corps Times.